China’s high-profile war games, launched last week by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), with 50,000 troops, have alarmed India and made the US nervous.
The US is taking great pains to ensure the joint India-US army and air exercises scheduled to start in October send a message to the Dragon through their sophistication.
A military official told DNA the US will move a convoy of eight-wheeled armoured Strykers from its Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaii to Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh for the October war games, billed as the largest exercise between the two countries. Armoured Strykers, which can withstand rocket-propelled grenades, will demonstrate their agility in a series of drills in Babina near Jhansi called “Yudh Abhyas” that will focus on counter-insurgency.
“Strykers with extra armour in Iraq and Afghanistan have helped safeguard them — they are the best machines in the world for patrols on roads that are laced with bombs,” said a US military official.
Menacing and massive armoured Strykers will rumble alongside Russian T-72 tanks belonging to the Indian army’s 31 Armoured Division which patrols India’s scorching western desert border with Pakistan. At least 500 American soldiers, mostly drawn from the 2nd Stryker Brigade, will converge on Babina to participate in the Yudh Abhyas drills in October, which will coincide with aerial exercises in Agra.
The US will deploy Lockheed Martin’s C-130J Hercules aircraft for the “Cope India” air drills. India which has already inked a $2.1-billion deal with Boeing for eight P-8i long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft has signalled interest in buying 15 Chinook helicopters.
India also plans to buy six Hercules transport planes from Lockheed Martin for $962 million and will get delivery in 2011. The Indian Air Force may also be shopping around for a transport aircraft like the giant Globemaster.
China was the world’s second biggest defence spender after the US last year.